Which stings more? Working hard on something and not getting noticed or working hard on something and not being liked? If your business has seen a significant loss of engagement on Instagram in the last few months, you’ve experienced both, and they feel exactly the same. But you should know your business isn’t alone.

There’s no shame in this engagement decline game; your business probably hasn’t done anything intentionally wrong. In all likelihood, your brand is feeling the effects of the Instagram Blues. Don’t ask, “Why did people stop liking my content?” Start wondering, “If 80% of Instagram users follow a business, why do they keep messing with us?”

These days everyone is panicked about the dramatic drop in their Instagram likes. In the beginning, the people talking about it did so in quiet whispers away from their bosses. But now, those of us who do the Instagram posting, data collecting, and client reporting are examining the quirks and whims of the social media underworld because delineating between actual trends and viral rumors is tricky…for your business and ours. 

Here, we offer you some reasons why your IG hearts may seem suddenly low in numbers, but remember there’s really no love lost.


At some point, you may have done something that Instagram didn’t like and now you’re smarting from the shadowban

Shadowban isn’t the name of some DC comic book villain. It’s the act of blocking a user’s content on social media sites, in such a way that the user is totally unaware it’s happening. 

That’s right: if you’re shadowbanned on Instagram, your content won’t appear on anyone’s feed unless they already follow you. 

That can be pretty devastating if you’re trying to grow your business, especially if you rely on user-generated content to do some of the legwork for you. Instagram admits that users were having difficulty with their content not displaying under certain hashtags, but won’t officially say it actively employs shadowbanning. But there is a list of banned hashtags, so be sure to do your research and don’t use them. 

Follower Services

Rather than trying to grow your brand organically, you decided to get a little help from a “follower service.” And with services out there offering you 1,000 followers for less than a couple of beers, why wouldn’t you save yourself valuable time and hire one? The problem is this: of those 1,000 brand spanking new fans you’ve acquired, how many of them are authentic people who will engage with your account in a meaningful way? Truth is, not many. A chunk of that number is comprised of bots and inactive accounts. So, although they might “like” something, it’s not real. And Instagram is actively removing any likes, followers, or comments from third-party apps that are designed to artificially grow accounts’ audiences. While your overall follower count may increase exponentially, and your content might garner a spike in likes, it will all be short-lived once Instagram figures out that it’s paid, robot love.

Ignoring Comments

Are you too busy to notice people commenting on that image you spent half a day curating? Then take down your Instagram account…you’re not allowed to have one. If you don’t have time to actually engage with your followers, then you don’t have time to be followed and your photos won’t be liked. With so many brands and businesses competing, customers and customers-to-be will only be loyal for so long. Don’t disrespect them, and they won’t disrespect you.

What Time is It?

It’s time to post, but you forgot to post yesterday and the day before and the day before that and so on and so on. Consistency matters when you’re up against a word as powerful as “algorithm.” Find yourself a user-friendly social media content calendar and set aside time every two weeks to plan out your whole month of images, captions, and hashtags. If you plan far enough in advance, you’ll feel like you have an Instagram expert working for you in the shadows when it was really just you all along. Doing so will create time for you to check in on the comments your engaged followers leave and reply to them in a significant way. 

There are ways to swing the pendulum back if you’ve lost some authentic engagement on Instagram. Consider promoting recent feed posts in your Instagram stories, sharing content across social media platforms, and including that most recent splashy product shot in your email newsletter. But take note, the word on the street is that Instagram has already been testing out hiding likes. This could mean that the popularity contest manufactured by all of us on Instagram will become less like a high school prom night and more like a world of people who actually like what they like.

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